Part 9: Presenting Yourself In Words

By René Trezise,

Director of Marketing & Communications for Potomac State College of WVU



Whether you are writing a scholarship essay or a cover letter, the same fundamental principles apply across the board when it comes to presenting a professional, intelligent and well-written piece of information. To follow are some tips to help guide you to your ultimate goal of college acceptance and scholarship award notices:


1.)    Remember the A,B,Cs of Writing

Accuracy – It is more important than ever to ensure the correct spelling of names, titles, and words. Don’t be lazy…utilize all your resources such as the dictionary, Internet and phonebook to name a few. Spell check is a wonderful tool available on virtually all word processing software; however, be wary that it doesn’t always catch grammatical errors such as “to” for “too” or “are” for “our.”


Brevity -- Aim to streamline your writing. Often, college applications and scholarship essays have a word limitation. Working from an outline is often helpful in gathering thoughts and staying on task with points to be made.


Clarity – The challenge to writing is conveying your thoughts to paper in such a way that your readers clearly understand what you are thinking. Be sure to ask teachers, guidance counselors, parents, and friends to read over your information and to offer constructive criticism. Ask them what it is they think you are trying to say.  


2.)    Be Yourself

Speak in your own voice and be sincere when describing your thoughts and opinions. The words will come much easier to you when you choose topics or issues that are meaningful to you. This is your opportunity to shine and state your views in a forum that can make a difference in your life.


3.)    Recycle Aluminum Cans and Paper, Not Your Essays or Cover Letters

There is nothing worse that reusing a letter that has a reference in it to the previous college to which you sent it. Also, “near match” essays are not going to win you any points.


4.)    Dare to be Creative

A unique and memorable introduction or conclusion might be what sets you apart from the one hundred other applicants. Or maybe you can offer a distinctive angle or slant to the assigned topic.


5.)    Become One with Revisions

Revising your writing is the difference between a mediocre and a good writer. Read your paper aloud. If the words sound awkward or you fumble the words or you have to read the sentence twice in order for it to make sense to you, then you need to rewrite and try again.


6.)    Time Can Be Your Friend

The most difficult aspect of writing is getting started. People often experience “writer’s block” when they feel the pressure of having to get it right with the first draft. If you start the essay early enough you have the luxury of time and multiple drafts. To jumpstart your essay, write anything and everything on your mind regarding the topic. This will help put you in the right frame of mind. Then go back and apply the tips mentioned above.


For more essay tips refer to:


Additional Resources:


All "College Tips" columns are available at


            American Education Services (1-304-345-7211; or toll            free: 1-800-437-3692)


            WV Mentor


Mineral County Technical Center at

Eastern Community and Technical College at (304-434-8000; or toll free:

Potomac State College of West Virginia University at or (304-788-6820 or toll free: